Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled a White Paper in Parliament on Thursday which said that when the BJP-led government came to power in 2014, the economy was in a fragile state, public finances were in bad shape, there was economic mismanagement, financial indiscipline and widespread corruption.

The paper said in the two terms of Modi government, the foundations of the economy were strengthened with bold reforms to nurture the coming decades of economic performance.

Ironically, the paper was presented on the day when the Rajya Sabha bid farewell to Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister during UPA regime (2004-14). Calling Manmohan Singh’s tenure as a “lost decade”, the paper said that it failed to capitalise on the strong foundational economy and pace of reforms left behind by the Vajpayee government. The potential of compounding growth never happened.

“Our government, unlike its predecessor, invested in the foundations of the economy along with building a sturdy superstructure. Looking back at the last 10 years, we can say with humility and satisfaction that we have successfully overcome the challenges left behind by the previous government. That said, we are not resting on our laurels. There are miles to go and mountains to scale before we sleep,” it said presenting comparison of two terms of UPA and NDA (2014-2024).

The 59-page White Paper, reiterated that the Amrit Kaal (25 years period) and next destination is making India a developed nation by 2047. “It is our Kartavya Kaal.” said the document.

The paper alleged that the UPA government inherited a healthy economy ready for more reforms but made it non-performing in its ten years. “The (previous) government abandoned the principles that brought about the economic liberalisation. There was economic mismanagement and financial indiscipline, and there was widespread corruption,” the paper said.

Inflation rate

The White Paper said the average annual inflation rate between 2004 and 2014 was around 8.2 per cent and accused the UPA of doing nothing to contain the high inflation.

“Inflation raged between 2009 and 2014 and the common man bore the brunt. High fiscal deficits for six years between FY09 and FY14 heaped misery on ordinary and poorer households. Over the five years from FY10 to FY14, the average annual inflation rate was in double digits. Between FY04 and FY14, average annual inflation in the economy was 8.2 per cent,” said the document.

After pursuing policies that created a huge fiscal deficit, the UPA government borrowed heavily from outside but used the funds in an unproductive manner. Infrastructure was neglected, development programmes were mis-managed. Even the social sector schemes – which the UPA prided itself on -- were laden with unspent funds, the Centre said on an issue that’s likely to draw a strong reaction from the Congress.

“Across the 14 major social and rural sector ministries, a cumulative ₹94,060 crore of budgeted expenditure was left unspent” over the 10 years. This, the Centre said, amounted to 6.4 per cent of the cumulative budget, compared to the 1 per cent left unspent by the NDA government over the last decade.

Slew of scams

The paper listed whole set of scams the UPA government was accused of – the 2G scam and Aircel-Maxis cases in the telecom sector, coal block allocations, Commonwealth Games, Saradha chit fund, INX Media Case, the irregularities during the Commonweath games and Augusta Westland Helicopter Scam and the Hawk Aircraft Purchase in the Defence sector. When it took over in 2014, the Narendra Modi government “recognised the urgent need to revamp and overhaul systems and processes”. The reforms undertaken has pushed back the country from the league of the “Fragile Five” to the ‘Top Five”.